• Fri. Mar 31st, 2023

Leprosy Was Treated with Ass Fat, Bull Gallbladder and Steamed Flies!


Oct 10, 2022

It wasn’t till the Nineteen Seventies that scientists developed an efficient remedy for leprosy. Up till then this horrible illness was feared not only for its terrible signs, but additionally for the stigma that got here with it and the ridiculous treatments popularized all through the ages, together with lathering lesions in bull gallbladder paste, steamed flies, and ass fats – that’s a wild ass of the horse household in fact!

One supply of such curious treatments is the Roman writer Pliny the Elder (23 to 79 AD). In his Naturalis Historia , thought-about by some to be the primary encyclopedia in historical past, Pliny discusses specific ailments and the loopy concoctions which Romans believed would remedy them.

Leprosy is a illness which, when untreated, can result in critical and everlasting harm not simply to the pores and skin, but additionally to the nerves, limbs and eyes. One of many first seen signs is the looks of ulcers or lesions on the pores and skin, numbness and even burning sores on the underside of toes. Its victims are sometimes horribly disfigured and crippled for all times.

Now think about having to endure the peculiar prescriptions created by the Romans. A few of them, though ineffective, sound fairly innocent, equivalent to making use of sores with vinegar-soaked elm. Asses’ fats was additionally thought to assist heal scars attributable to leprosy.

Pliny the Elder included a choice of treatments for leprosy inside his Naturalis Historia. ( Public domain )

Different treatments concerned rubbing a mix of salt, raisins, suet and bread into open wounds. In the meantime, placing asses’ urine or bull gallbladder on pores and skin lesions, with the added proviso that it needed to be achieved through the rising of the dog-star, which we all know at present as Sirus, seems to defy all logic.

Bugs have been reported to be “extraordinarily efficacious for the remedy of leprosy.” The principle ingredient in a single particularly curious remedy, thought to remain the progress of the illness, have been Catherides, generally known as Spanish fly, significantly juicy ones coated in yellow streaks. The thought was to steam the bugs in a small pot layered with fully-bloomed roses and canopy it with linen material. As soon as they’re achieved, the combination was mushed right into a pulp and lathered onto the leprous sores.

The Romans weren’t the one ones to provide you with doubtful medicine. From snake venom and excrement, to bee stings, human blood and isolation, there’s little or no nonsense which hasn’t been examined on leprosy’s casualties. Whereas Elma Brenner highlights the significance of avoiding “reductive and deceptive” depictions of the best way lepers have been handled all through historical past in History Extra , leprosy has been related to disgrace and stigma in numerous moments of historical past.

The title itself comes from the Bible, the place leprosy was inflicted by God as divine punishment for his or her sins. In an try and rid the terminology of this fame, lately it has been changed with the time period Hansen’s illness, after the Norwegian doctor who found the leprosy bacillus micro organism again in 1873.

High picture: The arms of an individual with leprosy. Supply: paul salmon/EyeEm / Adobe Inventory

By Cecilia Bogaard

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